The first European. The first Dallas Maverick. The first -- ahem -- in 25 years not to get his team out of the first friggin’ round of the playoffs.
As expected, Dirk Nowitzki will be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player next Tuesday at a press conference at the American Airlines Center. To say the least, it will be bittersweet.
There will be much ink spilled across the nation about how a 7-footer rendered a liability by Golden State’s Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes isn’t deserving of basketball’s most prestigious individual honor. (After Tuesday, Dirk will own as many MVPs as Shaquille O’Neal.) But repeat after me: There’s no place like the regular season. There’s no place like the regular season. There’s no place like the regular season.
The award is for performance over 82 games. And from November to April, Dirk was undoubtedly the best player on the league’s best team. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and a career-best 3.4 assists. He was the only player in the league to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (.502), 40 percent from three-point range (.416) and 90 percent from the free-throw line (.904). His team went 67-15 and won only its second division title in franchise history. He was named first-team All-NBA -- meaning he’s one of the five best players on the planet -- for a third consecutive year.
The dissection of Dirk’s disintegration in the playoffs has been underway for a week. (He had only three magical minutes in the series. Avery Johnson questioned his attitude. He played soft. He’s the first MVP since Houston’s Moses Malone in 1982 to accept the award after his team was eliminated. Yadda. Yadda. And more yadda.) The criticism, deservingly, will continue through the summer and into training camp in October and, likely, until the day he lifts the Mavs to a championship.
But for at least one day, let’s praise what Dirk did right for six months. Instead of poo-pooing what he did wrong for six games. --Richie Whitt
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.